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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Poems on 9/11

Here is what you will read if you visit the Poetry Daily Website today, 9/11/11 (with visual imagery of the New York skyline in light gray, the missing towers in shadow gray).



Poetry Daily is dark today
as we join our friends around
the world in remembering those
who died as a result of the
events of September 11, 2001.


I understand this impulse to silence. But I also understand why so many people turned to poety right after the devastation, and still do today. After all, poetry is  heightened language, and sometimes it is the best that we can do. Sometimes it is the only thing we can do.

The Poetry Foundation discusses some of the poems that address that horrific day or have comforted us in its aftermath in these two podcasts:

Two 9/11 Poems
The Mutilated World (after the poem title containing that phrase by Adam Zagajewski)

Interestingly, many of the poems cited in the second (and longer podcast) are from Polish poets, and they capture the mood and contemplation of post-9/11, even though they were written prior to the event in response to something else entirely.

If you want to reference the Jenny Holzer project mentioned in the first podcast, click here for an article by Shelley Jackson. Holzer's project is based on the idea that all of us with our fragmented impressions together make up the whole that not one of us alone can ever embody.

It ends with these haunting lines:


but whose

but whose full

but whose full meaning

but whose full meaning will

but whose full meaning will always

but whose full meaning will always remain

but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.

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